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NHS key factor in independence debate

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Alex Salmond, the first minister of Scotland, said that it was a 'serious problem' that Scotland does not have full financial control of its NHS, during a debate with Alistair Darling on 25 August.

The debate covered the main issues surrounding the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence. The future of the NHS and the amount of funding it is allocated formed a key part of the debate.

Currently, the UK government provides the Scottish Government with a fixed sum of money, which it allocates accordingly.

Should the UK government choose to alter the sum given to the Scottish Government, it is still able to assign as much as it likes to the NHS, but must find the money from elsewhere.

Mr Salmond said: 'The overall budget for Scotland has been cut by eight per cent. If we, as we have [already], decided to protect the NHS, which we've done, that's a third of our spending. That means the rest of the budget takes a 12 per cent cut…. We believe there's a privatisation agenda and a charging agenda, which means less money spent in England, and under devolution this has a knock-on effect to Scotland. To protect the NHS we have to control it financially to ensure it is safe in public hands.'

Mr Darling said: 'Being part of the UK means that we have the strength and security to fund the [NHS] especially with the pressures of an ageing population in Scotland. The Scottish parliament can decide how much or how little it spends. Public spending here is £1200 more per head than anywhere else in the UK and that is the way to guarantee spending on the NHS.' He went on to call their emphasis on privatisation in the UK a 'scare'campaign.

In 2012-13, Scotland spent around £2100 per head in comparison to England spending around £1800 per head in 2012-13.

The Scottish public will vote in the referendum on independence on 18 September.

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